With April coming to a close, it is time to start planning your Southwest Montana summer adventures. May I offer two words of advice? State Parks. From popular city-side swimming holes to only-accessible-on-dry-days-with-four-wheel-drive ghost towns, Montana’s more than fifty state parks celebrate the state’s diverse landscape and history.
Southwest Montana’s state parks offer a cross-section of the many exciting facets of Montana. Lewis and Clark Caverns and Lost Creek showcase the state’s natural beauty and unique geology. Beaverhead Rock and Clark’s Lookout focus on the Lewis and Clark expedition. Elkhorn, Granite, and Bannack represent Montana at its most famous, during the gold-rush days of the 1860s and `70s, while the Anaconda Smokestack memorializes the mining history of the 20th century. Black Sandy and Spring Meadow, two gorgeous lakes near Helena, give just a small taste of the recreation potential of the state. The parks range in size from Lewis and Clark Caverns’ sprawling 3,015 acres to the two buildings of Elkhorn. Nowhere shows the possibilities of Montana better than the state parks.
For most of the parks the endless activities include walking, hiking, fishing, camping (though not at Spring Meadow, which is day use only), picnicking, and birding. Although Anaconda Smokestack and Elkhorn are a bit too small to offer the full scope of activities, their history more than make up for their size.